Stars of the original Ghostbusters virtually reunited Monday on host Josh Gad's Reunited Apart in belated celebration of the 1984 film's 36th anniversary. The episode, doubling as a fundraiser for the Equal Justice Initiative, reunites franchise co-creator Dan Aykroyd with Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II co-stars Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, Sigourney Weaver, and Bill Murray, alongside director Ivan Reitman. Special guests on the Zoom call include William Atherton, Jennifer Runyon, Steven Tash, Michael Ensign, Timothy Carhart, and Larry King, who appear in Ghostbusters in supporting roles, "Ghostbusters" musician Ray Parker Jr., actor and Ghostbusters fan Kumail Nanjiani, and Jason Reitman, writer-director of 2021 sequel Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
"It's packed full of heart, and good feeling, and kindness, and everybody loves ghosts to start with, so what a great place to start with a concept for a movie," Aykroyd, who co-wrote Ghostbusters with late Egon Spengler star Harold Ramis, says on Reunited Apart. "And then to build in these wonderful actors who are just so versatile, with their massive range of talent, and all corralled by a masterful comic director. We were running on all 16 cylinders, all of us."
Adds Reitman, "As we watch, we want to be their friends. And it worked internationally that way."
The comedy about four ghost-catching New Yorkers who set out to rid the city of spooks, specters and other paranormal pests — for a price — has endured for nearly four decades because it "crosses generations," says Hudson. "I see multiple generations, grandparents or the grandkids, and they all find something in this movie to share."
"There's just something so familiar about this ghost thing," adds Weaver, whose character, hauntee Dana Barrett, was pursued by ghosts and bumbling neighbor Louis Tully. "I think all the writing — Rick [Moranis], and the dog, and the horses — it's just so imaginative."
"It was really a collaborative effort from the very first draft on," Aykroyd recalls of the original movie. "We had Ivan as a writer, we had Harold as a writer, Billy as a writer, and then of course all the great performances. Everybody improvising and adding stuff all the way along. Rick and Sigourney bringing whole levels of talent there that were just outstanding."
On Ramis, who died in 2014, Reitman says, "I sure miss him. I keep thinking of him as sort of a brother figure. I ended up working with him about five times, and he's real missed." Though Ramis was "not a believer in ghosts," Aykroyd says, the actor and filmmaker was "an incredible writing collaborator."
"And like myself and my family, he was very well educated in myth and mystique, and such a great writing partner. Because the references were there, in an intelligent way and harnessed for laughter," Aykroyd adds. "Brilliant collaborator. I miss him too, obviously."
The younger Reitman's Afterlife pays tribute to Ramis and Egon, who is revealed to have a familial connection to a new crop of characters — single mom Callie (Carrie Coon) and children Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) — when they relocate to the sleepy town of Summerville, Oklahoma, where seismologist and school teacher Mr. Grooberson (Paul Rudd) uncovers something strange in the neighborhood.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife opens in theaters March 5, 2021.